May 20, 2024

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A Day in the Life of New York Luxury Real-Estate Broker Lisa Simonsen

6 min read
A Day in the Life of New York Luxury Real-Estate Broker Lisa Simonsen
  • Lisa Simonsen is a New York high-society fixture and a real-estate broker with Douglas Elliman.
  • She has closed over $2 billion in deals since 2005, with over $100 million in sales in 2022.
  • Her day starts at 5 a.m. with cycling and green juice and ends at 10 p.m. with client phone calls.

Lisa Simonsen is self-disciplined. It’s a trait she brought with her from her early career days as a fitness instructor who, before the word became synonymous with social media, influenced her clients to be better. 

“People were always wanting to work with me and trusted me and liked me and thought I was incredibly knowledgeable,” the 55-year-old New Yorker said. “I sold a lifestyle when I was younger, and now I’m selling real estate. But my skill set is the same.” 

The mother of three still relies on her interpersonal relationships, work ethic, and good will in the community to get ahead, she said. Simonsen is also somewhat of a social media influencer now, with 34,000 Instagram followers who keep up with her business advice, interior design tips, and on-point fashion looks.

Simonsen entered the real-estate world in 2005, and has used her self-discipline to catapult herself to the top with over $2 billion in closed transactions — with $100 million in sales in 2022 alone. These days she is among the top-selling brokers at brokerage Douglas Elliman, where she heads up the ten-member Simonsen Team. 

Simonsen keeps an impressive Rolodex of international and big-name clients and buyers like Kelly Ripa, who purchased a $27 million Upper East Side townhouse Simonsen represented the seller of in 2013, and commercial real-estate king Bob Knakal, whose $13.45 million Park Avenue apartment Simonsen is currently shopping around.

She told Insider she isn’t put off by setting her alarm for a 3 a.m. call with an international client — it’s just part of the gig. 

“I’m very passionate about my work,” Simonsen said. “I always feel grateful.” Here’s what the top seller gets done in a day.

5 a.m.

Simonsen tries to wake up at 5 a.m. every day to squeeze in some time for herself before her three children — 15, 10, and 4 — wake up. She works out every morning, often on a spin bike, at her Upper East Side home.

“By the time the sun is rising I have already worked out, showered, and am sitting here reading the paper in my inspiration corner — I have great views where I live — and listening to classical music,” Simonsen said.

A post shared by Lisa Simonsen (@lisarsimonsen)


She starts her day with celery juice with lemon while looking over the real-estate transactions that have happened across the world while she slept.

7 a.m.

The kids are awake. Mornings are chaotic in Simonsen’s household. “My 10-year-old likes to negotiate everything with me,” she said. Sometimes, that means he loses minutes on his iPad.

“We always have breakfast together and we usually have dinner together, even if I’m going out,” Simonsen said. 

7:45 a.m.

The kids are out the door for school. At this point Simonsen’s already spoken with about five clients overseas. Her practice is largely New York-based, but her clientele is international. 

8 a.m.

Simonsen’s driver picks her up in an SUV. From there, they pick up her team’s chief of operations, Charlie McDonald, who also lives on the East Side.

“By the time he’s in the car, I’ve already had a morning phone call with him. And I’ve also had a phone call with Savannah,” she said, referring to Savannah Bojokles, the Simonsen Team’s marketing manager.

8:30 a.m.

Simonsen arrives at her office in Midtown Manhattan. She catches up with her team on buyer and seller activity, and reviews for-sale listings. Other days, team members meet with their business coach, who helps them plot out weekly and monthly goals. 

10:30 a.m.

One of Simonsen’s current listings is a five-bedroom, seven-and-a-half-bathroom condo at 737 Park Avenue on the market for $13.45 million. She takes a client through the 4,000-plus square foot space with a dedicated laundry room — a rarity in New York City.

The living room of Bob Knakal's 737 Park Avenue apartment, which Simonsen has listed for $13.45 million. Here the living room appears virtually staged.

The living room of Bob Knakal’s 737 Park Avenue apartment, which Simonsen has listed for $13.45 million. Here the living room appears virtually staged.

Douglas Elliman

“It’s a who’s-who building,” Simonsen said, noting that the seller is her “good friend” Bob Knakal, a broker who sells major NYC buildings and is nearly synonymous with commercial real estate in the city. Other residents in the rental-turned-condo on East 71st Street include a banker, an attorney, and lots of buyers shielded behind LLCs.

12 p.m.

Simonsen holds her annual holiday lunch at Doubles, an old-school supper club in legendary New York hotel-condo The Sherry Netherland. The agent said she joined when her kids were younger “because they have amazing children’s parties.”

The club is “very hard to get into” and the guest list of Simonsen’s festive feast stays true to that tenet. She said fellow Douglas Elliman agent and former “Real Housewives of New York” star Kelly Killoren Bensimon was in attendance, as well as “a very well-known jeweler,” a “socialite,” and a “very famous doctor,” all of whom she was not willing to name.

1:30 p.m.

Simonsen leaves her own luncheon for 45 minutes to show a client a $29.5 million townhouse nearly under the 59th Street Bridge.

The double-booked schedule isn’t uncommon in Simonsen’s line of work. As McDonald, the operations lead, explained, “Lisa’s clients’ time is very valuable. They’ll give us the smallest window of time that they can see something, and we have to get them in.”

A subterranean living room in a Brooklyn townhouse that overlooks a landscaped garden.

Simonsen also holds the listing for a five-bedroom, four-bathroom modern townhouse at 47 Columbia Place in Brooklyn. It’s on the market for just shy of $7 million.

Douglas Elliman

She heads back to her luncheon after the showing.

3 p.m.

Simonsen likes to keep her “sphere of influence” — that’s real-estate-agent speak for the informal group of connections that help drum up and sustain business — vast. 

One friend, a bartender at high-end pub P.J. Clarke’s, tells Simonsen to come meet a customer he found interesting, so she heads that way. Turns out Simonsen had met him six months ago. They speak for about 45 minutes, and decide he’ll join her team. He is a former prize fighter and gives Simonsen’s son a boxing lesson the next day.

4 p.m.

Simonsen squeezes in another client meeting and finalizes a few last details for her husband’s surprise birthday party later in the night.

7 p.m.

The couple head to Felice 83, a “very homey” Upper East Side restaurant where Simonsen assembled a small group of her husband’s friends for his 70th birthday. They dine on artichokes, salads, and pastas, and share wine.

10 p.m.

Simsonsen heads for home to hop on a call with a new client in Singapore. The call is brief. 

11 p.m.

It’s bedtime, at last.

Correction: December 28, 2022 — An earlier version of this story mistated Simonsen’s role in a transaction with Kelly Ripa. She was the seller’s agent, not Ripa’s. An earlier version of this story mistated when Simonsen’s son had a boxing lesson. It was after Simonsen met the former prize fighter at P.J. Clarke’s, not before. An earlier version of this story mistated the restaurant Simonsen and her husband dined at for her husband’s birthday. It was Felice 83, not Sant Ambroeus. 

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